Ice Pilots blast Gladiators 8-5

PENSACOLA, Fla. - The Gwinnett Gladiators were outgunned in an 8-5 loss to the Pensacola Ice Pilots on Friday night at the Pensacola Civic Center.

After fighting back from a two-goal deficit to tie the game 5-5 just 24 seconds into the third period, the Gladiators were blasted by lowly Pensacola down the stretch.

It was Gwinnett's second straight loss and third in four games.

The Gladiators (16-10-4, 36 points) host Pensacola (8-18-2, 18 points) tonight at the Arena at Gwinnett Center.

Defenseman Jim Jackson gave the Gladiators their only lead of the game 2:51 into the first period. Jackson took a pass from Matt York and ripped a slap shot through traffic past Pensacola netminder Ben Gray for the goal, his fifth of the season.

Then Pensacola dropped a three-spot on Gwinnett in less than seven minutes, taking a 3-1 lead on goals by Mike Wirll at 5:43, Nikita Korovkin at 9:13 and Dallas Steward at 12:30. Stewart got credit for a short-handed tally when a bouncing puck ricocheted off him and past rookie goalie Dan Turple.

Scott Mifsud cut the gap to 3-2, scoring on a penalty shot at 8:37 of the second period. Mifsud had been hauled down on a breakaway after York hit him with an outlet pass in the neutral zone.

But Pensacola answered about a minute later when Greg Watson ripped a slap shot past Turple.

That process was repeated as Gwinnett defenseman Jon Awe made it a 4-3 game, scoring on the power play, before Watson again restored Pensacola's two-goal margin.

The Gladiators hauled themselves back from that deficit with two more power play goals on either side of the final intermission. Colton Fretter, who assisted on Gwinnett's opening salvo, posted his 20th goal of the season with 22 seconds left in the second period. Parked along the left wing wall, Fretter took a pass from Jamie Milam and walked in on goalie Ben Gray before ripping the puck off of traffic in front of the Ice Pilots net.

Mike Vigilante tied the game at 5 with his own power-play tally 24 seconds into the third period. Brad Schell added an assist, earning a point for the 14th straight game and bringing his league-leading point total to 56.

But all the work went down the drain as Pensacola unloaded on Gwinnett with three more goals, including two on the power play 40 seconds apart.

Dwayne Hay scored what proved to be the game winner as he ripped a slap shot past Turple at the 6:21 mark of the third period.

Watson completed the hat trick at the 10:16 and Pensacola rounded out the scoring with a marker from Wrigley at the 10:56.

Turple finished with 25 saves for the Gladiators in the loss while Gwinnett went 3-for-11 on the power play in the loss.